• 20211210-155343-8b530c5106

The 45th annual “This is Colorado” exhibit opened Nov. 30 at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts at Arapahoe Community College, Littleton campus.

Hosted by the local Heritage Fine Arts Guild, the exhibit runs through Dec. 21 — and admission is free to this really colorful and varied selection of paintings in many styles and techniques. There are 63 works, chosen from 95 submissions by Colorado artists, according to gallery director Trish Sangelo.

The 2021 juror was well-known Denver area painter and teacher Victoria Kwasinski, who has taught workshops on technique for this guild and other area arts organizations over the years, as well as exhibiting her own artwork locally and nationally. She presented awards to winners at a Dec. 2 reception in the gallery.

The Best of Show, announced on Dec. 2, is Suszanne Bernat Droney’s sunny portrait, “Arturo,” depicting an intense-looking man with a long black braid, brightly colored shirt and confident air. Perhaps the scene is Santa Fe? The viewer is inclined to speculate about possible stories as Arturo squints into the sun. Is he an artist? Storyteller? Some other sort of performer? Or he could operate a local business or teach…

It’s fun to make up stories about images that speak to one.

What is not in question is Droney’s skill as a painter. In addition to this sunny Best of Show winner, she has a second painting in the show called “Where to Now on the Ponte Vecchio?” The tired man pictured is feeling the sort of visual and emotional overload that hits a first-time visitor to Florence, Italy — or some other multi-storied place in this world. Happy, stimulated and dealing with weary legs and a head overflowing with images.

Sina March’s oil painting, “Bus Stop,” is the Second Place winner, and, by contrast, takes a visitor to a sunny corner across the street from a park or ball field in a town that could be nearby. We see a bench, street planting in blocky containers, leafy trees with sunlight filtering through … calm and quiet.

Lee Wasilik’s “Mr. Chaplin’s Closeup” won Third Place and the show offered a number of Honorable Mentions, some funded by artists’ vendors.

Area teacher and painter Robert Gray’s “Downstream,” a flowing mountain brook one can almost hear, Suzanne Connors’ “The White Vase” and Aicha Jacob’s “Celebration!” are included, plus Vendor Awards. Guirys include: “Guanella Mist,” by Janice Wright; “Mingle,” by Bon Stahlin and Janet Ford’s humorous “The Hereford Family.”

A Blick Vendor’s Award went to Barbara Williams for her acrylic painting, “Sunshine in the Garden,” and a Holbein Award was given to Celeste Hodges for her watercolor, “Daniels Park.”

Colorado Gallery of the Arts is on the east side of ACC’s Littleton campus at Church Street and Santa Fe Drive in Littleton. Gallery hours: Monday-Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Virtual exhibit through Jan. 31: tinyurl.com/accshow2021.

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, public events frequently are canceled or rescheduled. Check with organizers before you go.